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Shellback Certificate, US Langley Aircraft Carrier, 1936

US Navy

Shellback Certificate, US Langley Aircraft Carrier, 1936

Not for Sale

This artifact resides in our Private Collection, yet we welcome inquiries from restorers, museums, or serious enthusiasts. Please email us with the name of the artifact at

This is an original authentic Shellback Certificate from a crewman of the US Navy's first aircraft carrier US Langley dated May 1936.  

A tradition of navies around the world for hundreds of years was to 'baptize' ship's crew the first time they crossed the equator.  This was a ceremony that was anticipated with excitement and dread by inexperienced crew, known as Pollywogs. The ceremony was replete with various rituals and 'hazing' meted upon the Pollywogs by the appointed King Neptune (the ships captain or his designee). After the ceremony, Pollywogs became Shellbacks, and received a certificate acknowleging the event.

This Shellback certificate is unique because it was from the US Navy's first aircraft carrier, and the event occurred prior to WWII off the coast of South America in 1936.  The detail and artistry of the certificate is impressive, and it also has the wax seal of authenticity of King Neptune, ships Captain JH Hoover.

The cerificate is large, 19.5 inches wide and ~14 inches high. It has been mounted sometime during its life on thin cardboard and covered with a clear material. The colors and printing are clear and precise, an exceptional example indeed.  We are honored to have it in our collection.

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